By Richard McCarty
For years, some blue states have been automatically deducting union dues from the checks of Medicaid caregivers. Many of these caregivers are relatives or friends of the person they care for and did not wish to join a union. The main beneficiary of this dues skim is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Under Obama, a rule was implemented to authorize this scheme. Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that would rescind the Obama-Era regulation.
If the proposed rule takes effect, only deductions specifically permitted by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishments or child support payments, will be allowed. Of course, any caregivers who wish to join or remain in a union will still be able to do so; they will just need to make arrangements to pay their dues.
Although it might seem to be an obscure or unimportant issue, there is a lot at stake here. For example, it has been estimated that SEIU collects $200 million a year by skimming dues from 500,000 caregivers. As part of the rule-making process, CMS requested comments on the proposed rule, and over 6,000 comments were submitted during the month-long comment period. Among those thousands of comments were these from Medicaid home care providers, which help to show the significance of the matter.
Linda from Oregon wrote, “I am a caregiver for a Medicaid client…..I support [the proposed rule]. The union is against everything I stand for in my life…I want out…”
A Californian wrote, “I am a care giver for a Medicaid client and in strong support of [the proposed rule]… The federal law is the only protection I have against the SEIU union and collaborative state political intervention. “
A commenter from Washington wrote the following:
I support [the proposed rule]. I am a caregiver for a Medicaid client, and my experience with SEIU 775 has been negative. The US Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn established in 2014 that caregivers serving Medicaid clients could not be required to financially support a labor union. Ever since, SEIU 775 and the state of Washington have worked to keep [Independent Providers] paying union dues whether they want to or not.
Another Washingtonian wrote the following:
I strongly support [the proposed rule]!
I am a caregiver for a Medicare client and have had horrible experiences with SEIU 775. I do not wish to be a union member yet this union forces itself onto people… I discovered the union was having union dues withheld from my paycheck when I was a non-member. I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get that resolved. Also, when training, the union representative shows up and spends 45 minutes to an hour pitching to everyone like they are required to sign into the union. Many of these trainees do not speak or understand English language very well and end-up signing into the union without really understanding. This practice needs to stop.
Finally, Kris from Minnesota submitted the following comment:
SEIU is taking advantage of modestly paid [personal care assistants] who do belong to the union, by skimming 3% of their pay up to $948.00 a year from Medicaid…
I am urging you to stop this corruption by ending the ability of the State of Minnesota to deduct union dues for the SEIU from my daughters benefit.
Medicaid is being used to fund political agendas in Minnesota and hurt families like mine… That has to stop.
CMS will now consider the comments it received and decide whether to proceed to a final rule. Given SEIU’s shameful treatment of home care providers, CMS should implement the proposed rule and protect caregivers’ Medicaid checks as soon as possible.
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Richard McCarty is the Director of Research for Americans for Limited Government Research. As originally published on SEIU Monitor.